Thursday, May 26, 2011

the wild, wild west

Doc by Mary Doria Russell
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction
Challenge: 100 Book Challenge 2011
Review: I don't think I've ever actually read a Western, so I can't say for sure if this book qualifies as belonging to that genre, or if it's just plain old historical fiction.  Whatever it is, it's another example of Mary Doria Russell's mastery of her craft.  We already know that Russell writes great historical fiction and science fiction, but here she has chosen yet another period and setting vastly different from what she's given her readers before, and again with the meticulous research that her fans will by now take for granted.

If this book has a flaw, it's that it can be a little jumpy.  We are occasionally yanked back in time for some backstory, which always helps flesh out a character or plot point, but some way of distinguishing these short flashbacks from the rest of the narrative would have made the transition less jarring.  This small flaw is easily overlooked, though, as it doesn't take more than a sentence or two to adjust to the new setting.

And it's well worth overlooking.  Historical figures that many of us have heard of but probably don't know much about beyond the legend will come to life through Russell's writing.  Those who are more familiar with these figures will appreciate the research that Russell has done to go beyond that legend.  Everyone will enjoy a good story well told.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for this review.

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